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Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Spend Hal's Money: Carlos Beltran

By Wallace Matthews

Carlos Beltran
Should the Bombers bring out the bucks for Carlos Beltran?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

Today's Candidate: Carlos Beltran
Position: Outfield
Age: Turns 37 on April 24
Height: 6-1
Weight: 210
2013 numbers: .296, 24 HRs, 84 RBIs, .830 OPS in 145 games for the St. Louis Cardinals

Expected going rate: Beltran made $13 million a year in both of his previous one-year deals with the Cardinals, a considerable pay cut from his days with the Mets, when he was paid in excess of $19 million a year for the last three seasons of a seven-year deal. Coming off a fine season, he will probably want to get back to those kinds of numbers.

The pros: He can still hit for some power; he was among the top five NL right fielders in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS, and his on-base percentage was a respectable .339, which would have been third-highest among Yankees regulars this season, behind only Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner. And the infamous called third strike that ended the 2006 NLCS notwithstanding, he doesn't strike out nearly as much as Gardner, Alfonso Soriano or Curtis Granderson. Beltran could play center field in a pinch, although hasn't played there regularly since 2008. He's also a good clubhouse guy.

The cons: A former three-time Gold Glove center fielder, Beltran graded out the lowest of all NL right fielders in range and arm strength according to defensive metrics, which you may or may not fully trust. He was considered injury-prone as a Met and has a history of knee problems, although he was durable enough to play 137 games in right field this season and 132 games in right field in 2012. He's not young, and assuming he replaces Granderson on the roster, actually makes the Yankees older than they are now.

The verdict: A lot of it depends on whether Granderson accepts a one-year qualifying offer from the Yankees. At about $14 million, one more year of Grandy is a much better option than several years of Beltran. Also, there are better, and younger, options out there if the Yankees choose to commit years and dollars to an outfielder. Think Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom probably have more good years left than Beltran. Is he a better option for right field than Ichiro Suzuki? Definitely, but at this stage of both their careers, that's not saying all that much. I say pass.